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JUSTICE FOR JUSTIN!

Posted on February 12, 2008

Check out this great write up from this months rocksound. Giving OPEN HAND album of the month. Not only does it give you an overview and critic of the album, but offers an insight into the many trials of frontman Justin Isham The situation Open Hand’s Justin Isham has dealt with over the past couple of years is one you hope no frontman will ever have to experience. To watch your band crumble around you at the first sniff of success just doesn’t bear thinking about for most young hopefuls, even more so when it’s because your fellow musicians have given up on something you believed was their lifeblood. But that’s exactly what happened in 03 when, just as debut release ‘The Dream’ was beginning to make an impression, the guitarist, bassist and drummer all upped and left. Ask Isham why he this happened and he’ll hint vaguely at things like the band members’ increasing greed for money and the corresponding lack of it. Listen to the latest offering ‘You And Me’, however, and you’ll probable decide that it had more to do with fate. In classic ever-cloud-has-a-silver-lining fashion, Isham has triumphed against the odds to make Open Hand better that we ever hoped they could be í¢ä‰åäóì at once more accessible and more dangerous, more melodic and more aggressive, more coherent and more complex. It was already evident from ‘The Dream’ that Open Hand were no ordinary hardcore act. For a start words such as melody, pop and experimentation dominated their vocabulary. Then, when heavyweights Poison The Well brought them to our shores in the spring of 03, they were the support act that provided the light to the headliners’ impenetrable shade. With its Smashing Pumpkins-style grandiosity, ‘This Is The End’ carried the early signs of an ambition that centers on the epic, while the curiously incoherent ‘Radio Days’ and ‘Never Alone’ quietly dipped their toes into prog rock territory and found the water to be nice in deed. And so it is that ‘You And Me’ expands on those initial sparks of promise and increases them tenfold. Having created a sterling backing band by re-recruiting original bassist Micheal Anastasi and former guitarist Sean Woods, adding drummer and new vocal force Paxton Pryor (previously of The Vacation) and guest vocalist Hayley Helmericks (Monofog), Open Hand is now a truly unstoppable operation. From the bomb blast opening of ‘Pure Concentrated Evil’ through to monumental closer ‘Hard Night’, this is an astonishingly powerful album. Isham’s voice has a new found confidence that enables him to judge the songs’ twists and turns í¢ä‰åäóì both sonic and thematic í¢ä‰åäóì and ride them effortlessly, be it in the silky smooth majesty of ‘Her Song’, or the muted vocal swagger of highlight ‘Tough Girl’, where the singer battles it out with Helmericks to great gender-bending effect. Together with book and ‘Tough Guy’, and the record’s third duet ‘Take No Action’, these songs mark an edgier and altogether ballsier approach for Open Hand, one that puts them up there with ‘Antenna’ era Cave In, but still screams innovation. That’s not to say that Isham and co have abandoned their talent for dreamy melodies, and creations like the title track, ‘Jaded’ and the divine ‘Trench Warfare’ fly the flag for a kind of QOTSA lite. Open Hand have succeeded in making a record that defines them, by finally creating an audible identity while still ensuring boundaries are continually reinterpreted. They’ve also achieved that feat of feats – making sure that if you weren’t convinced the fist time around, you’ll be helpless to resist them now. CLICK HERE to go the ROCKSOUND site

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